Monday, December 29, 2008

Dinner Guests

It's been quite awhile since we had company for dinner. G is busy cleaning. I am busy prepping the food. So far, I have blanched asparagus and sugar snap peas. Peeled and seeded tomatoes for bruschetta (to serve with Prosecco) as an appetizer. I don't usually work this way, but I felt I should put to use all the information and techniques I learn while watching the Food Channel.

We are having chicken with a breading of butter, Parmesan and seasoned breadcrumbs. I still need to prep the chicken and pound it very thin between sheets of clear plastic wrap

For dessert we are having chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. The cake is soaking up the hot butter, sugar and Kahlua syrup I poured over it. The cake itself is chocolate fudge with half a cup of Kahlua in the cake mixture. It smells heavenly.

The olive oil and basil for the bruschetta smells divine also. I will toast some Italian flatbread and then rub the toast with a cut garlic clove and top each slice with the tomato, basil, olive oil mixture. And , no, we don't eat this way every day, but we could. It's all very simple food and best of all, most of it was "on special" at the supermarket.

Not that it mattered. Every time I go to the supermarket, I put less in the cart and the bill at the end is higher than the previous visit. I am always startled by the total. Especially now that both G and I are not working.

If things get tight, we can always have beans and biscuits. The cowboy diet. With music. There was a cheese they sold in Germany and when you ordered some they would ask if you wanted your cheese with music or without. Finally, some kind German explained "music" to me. Ah, I understood, then. The cheese with music gave you gas.

On that charming note, I shall return to my kitchen duties.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Santa Has Left The Building

And it was a very nice Christmas. I finally got my wish and we did no shopping, no wrapping and now, no exchanging, returning etc.

The Christmas Burritos were excellent. Better than they have ever been. The pumpkin pie was good, also. Riley loved his peanut butter filled frozen Kong and the little stuffed Hippo that Santa brought him. Too bad about the squeaker getting bitten so quickly. I won the holiday Scrabble game with 212 points.

The sun was shining and the snow melted off the sidewalks and streets but not the lawn. Still good enough for snowballs and snowmen (which Riley knocked over and chewed up). Our tree got a good review from the daughter and the son was invited to "feast" with a bunch of guys who love to cook. He lives far away to the west where it is raining, but not snowing.

So goodnight to all and pleasant dreams!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two and Eight

I can't begin to describe the perplexity of my co workers when I got down on the floor (literally) to take this photo. I just had to bring the camera to work for these wonderful "dots" created by the open ends of pressed wood logs. I almost used Rayna's "I'm an artist" line.

Last night I hugged several co workers farewell. They won't be working on Wednesday, my last day at work. The ones I hugged are looking for new employment and may not be back when the spring season begins in March. I may never see them again. Everyone but 3 or 4 are being laid off for two and maybe three months. Okay for me, sort of, but not a good choice for most with rent, car payments and insurance. We make so little that unemployment doesn't come to much.
Parting, is indeed, such sweet sorrow.

And tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I usually spent the day cooking. I will, instead, spend the day working. What will Sam do without her pierogi? I guess I have to make them today. What will G and I eat tomorrow? Perhaps I should have planned ahead?????

There are NO presents to wrap. We did NO shopping. I know we should have been helping the economy by buying things that are on sale, but actually, we don't need anything right now. I did want a pair of pajamas but I pulled a 2X pair out of the Goodwill bag, and, with some tucks, they will do for this winter. I thought I needed socks but now that I have only one more winter day at work, I don't need more socks. (watering plants = wet socks) Watering plants equals wet socks, wet pant legs and wet sleeves. And then you help a customer carry something OUTSIDE where its 7 degrees and windy. Wow!

I described my emotional state (to a friend) as being like a kite, suddenly having no one holding the string. No downward tug. No parent after a lifetime of having him there. No work after 9 months of such pleasant work. Uncertain circumstances in the world rippling into my life.

Eight more days in this year and I can begin a new year, fresh and clean. New hopes, dreams and plans. After I complete my ONE new years resolution from 2008 -- making a buttonhole with my sewing machine.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

When Happiness Shows Up

When Happiness shows up: offer it a comfortable seat. I am "feathering" my Christmas nest with twinkling lights, vintage and new ornaments, holiday food and higher settings on the furnace. What better use of my money? Heat. Lights. Things baking in the oven.

Happiness : This week's mail brought the most delightful Christmas card from Marianne in Hattersheim. An actual letter. Full of good cheer. It was like we were sitting down together for a nice chat. Oh, thank you, Marianne. Such good memories of Germany and your friendship. I know you read this blog on Sunday, and perhaps you have already done so today, but when you do read this, know that we would offer you the most comfortable of seats (to entice you to stay!).

Happiness: It is snowing and very cold here. A blizzard warning is in effect. But the snow is dry and powdery and easily plowed. It is also easily blown around so white out conditions could happen on the roads. We have no where to go. Let it snow. The flakes are big and fluffy and coming down like a big swirly snowglobe. So pretty.

Happiness: G & I did some grocery shopping on Thursday and found a ham. Hoorah!!! A whole, 16 pound ham that hadn't been "spiral sliced" or loaded with water. In fact, they had three hams in three different weighs. So we got to choose. I love having a ham in the fridge to nibble on for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And then for soup.

Happiness: Is spending time with friends. Not spending time in stores, shopping for things we don't really need. I spent yesterday afternoon with my walking buddy. She gave her daughter and son in law the gift of a snowy weekend in Boston at a posh hotel (rates are extremely low right now), while she babysits their 16 month old son. While he napped , we had coffee and a very nice conversation. Too cold for our usual walk. Then the three of us played "ball".

Happiness: Is having G drive me to work tomorrow and then come pick me up.

Happiness: Is going down to my workroom/studio and doing whatever I want all afternoon. Cleaning. Sorting. Sewing. Just sitting. Doesn't matter what I find to do. I'll be surrounded by fabric.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fabric/Art , finally!

Each year I make my own Christmas Card using a tree as the theme each year. I find I can be more creative with strict parameters. So, a tree. And I took a random bag of fabric scraps, scissors, glue stick and that was it, to FiberArts over the ArtWalk weekend (and ice storm) and worked on the trees. I fudged a bit and used some felt I had in my work basket for another project.

There were odd scraps of fabric in the bundle. the one on the left had blue beads sort of glued to the surface. I added buttons and stitched the pieces down with invisible thread and the zigzag stitch the next day. I slipped the finished (sort of) 4 by 6 inch pieces carefully into purchased photo card holders that I got in the summer for 70% off.

The hardest part was getting started. And the first cards were a bit on the ugly duckling side but after making five, I went back and fixed them just a bit and they looked ever so much better. And the final stitching makes a world of difference. I like the felt as a backing better than just fabric (too thin and wobbly).

As I got closer to the end, I got much looser and the results were more "arty" like the tree on the left. I really wish they all had that carefree spirit. The one on the right is a bit dark in the photo but has a very rich texture with the glittery tulle, lush green satin and a wonderful textured, gathered fabric for the stem all on a bed of flecked felt.

These two trees are just "swinging" to some jazzy Christmas music. I believe these were the last two I made. You can see the textures of fabric I found in my bundle, which was from the fabric swap at my chapter meeting. The one where 12 out of 60 participated. My swap bundle was from a crazy quilter. O La La!!! All the pieces were 6 or 8 inches square. Just bits.

Then I had to choose who gets a card. And what card. They are in the mail and some should have arrived (to local venues) today. I hope you love them as much as I love all of you!

I have lights on my "wild" uncultivated Christmas tree but no ornaments yet. I have slipcovers to remove and wash in the living room, dining room to clean in preparation for inviting guests to eat with us over the next two weeks, twinkly lights to hang from the molding (think Nigella's Christmas Kitchen), the kitchen itself is spotless (not a normal) as G has been cleaning it daily after breakfast and dinner now that he is home. He's been walking the dog every day also.

I think we will be going to 111 Maine Street for lunch later today. I have been very strict with G on credit card usage and meals out. But it's Christmas. And he does enjoy his Flank Steak Sandwich with Crispy Potatoes. The onions on the sandwich are carmelized and then reduced in Port wine.

We will be going to the grocery store after lunch. I really want to purchase a holiday ham but I do not want a spiral sliced one. So it's been difficult. I may chat with the butcher and see if I can place a special order.

We finally finished the lasagna I prepared last Thursday (before the storm). It was one of the best I've ever made. G had the last piece with a nice mixed salad for dinner last night. I had a bowl of oatmeal because K at work got me Nachos from Taco Bell for lunch. Have I mentioned how very much I adore K ????? Not to worry. He's 18. J at work (34) reminded me to go start my truck when it got close to closing time at work yesterday. Wanted me to have a nice warm vehicle for the ride home. Did I mention, enough times, what wonderful co workers I have here at the greenhouse?

It's 10:30 in the morning and I haven't finished my first cup of coffee yet and I'm still in my pajamas. I need a "to do" list to get me motivated. I made a list of five items on Tuesday and got them all done by dinner time. WOW! Could not believe it. So, another list of five today. Be warm. Be Happy. Make something today!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ice Storm Cometh For One Day

The bank cocktail party on Wednesday was great and for the first time (that I recall) we "networked" and G had a job interview scheduled for Friday. I had three glasses of wine and my first bacon wrapped scallop evah!

The Ice Storm began after we had gone to bed on Thursday. We awoke to no lights, heat or telephone. For some strange and wonderous reason, the electric flickered on, just when G was trying to open the garage doors. G then jump started the generator we have had since the first, memorable ice storm of 1998 (no power for 6 full days), and we plugged the coffeemaker in (priorities). We made coffee and then plugged in the toaster oven and toasted bagels. Then we heated water in the electric kettle so we could wash our hair and faces. G had the interview and I had work. The roads were covered in slush, the trees were bent under the weight of an ice coating on branches and leaves. Our road is partially blocked by three birch trees drooping down to the asphalt.

I worked on my girl scout skills and got a nice fire going in the woodstove so that by sunset it was nearly 66 degrees in the great room/kitchen (much warmer than when I heat with oil), there was no reason to go into work (icy roads = no customers), so I stayed home and read Mansfield Park and tended the fire.

I had prepared a huge pan of lasagna on Thursday. I think I was preparing for my being at Fiberworks all weekend for ArtWalk and figured we would just have leftover lasagna each evening. That lasagna came in handy Friday evening. G ran the generator line to the refrigerator for about 90 minutes to get everything COLD and then we plugged in the toaster oven and baked a small portion of the lasagna. I made salad by candlelight. While we ate dinner, we listened to the channel 6 news (TV) broadcast on the radio. Kept looking up at the television screen when they said "look at this". Duh!

When it came time to go to bed, we jumped into a freezing cold bed (no heat from the woodstove made it down there) and snuggled under the thick LL Bean down comforter and slept like we were on a tropical beach somewhere. So warm and toasty. Usually, the comforter is too warm, but Friday night, it was perfect.

This morning I got the woodstove going, we got the generator going for coffee and bagels and then plugged in the fridge to get COLD and that's when G noticed the little red light on the phone answering machine and flicked on the light switch. POWER!!!!!

My daughter still has no power and no heat. So G hooked the generator to her furnace (very tricky business and best left to someone who knows what they are doing) and heated her little house up to 69 degrees for the evening. If she still has no power tomorrow, he will take it back and hook it up again and reheat the house. Can't leave a generator untended overnight or outdoors. They get stolen.

Now we have visited the world of no job, no health insurance, no electricity, no heat and no phone. The Winter of 2008. Could be worse. If we had a well, we would include no water and all that entails.

Tonight, hot food baking in the OVEN. Ice in our drinks from the ICE MAKER. HOT SHOWERS. Clean dishes in the DISH WASHER. Heat from the FURNACE. LIGHTS to read by. TELEVISION & TiVo. BLOGGING on the INTERNET. It was only ONE day but I was flashing back on the SIX days in 1998. I am so very thankful for all my appliances, furnace and most of all for the hot shower I am going to take right now. Later!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Where I Work

This is my workspace. If you walk straight back, past the white bench, you'll come to the back doors where all my deliveries arrive (in warm weather). My carts are coming in through the warehouse these cold days and then through the garden center and down the ramp into the greenhouse. I order replacement poinsettias every afternoon before going home. These are the fourteen dollar, pinched pinks and whites.

This is a non pinched red. I love the little yellow flowers in the center. The red leaves are just that- leaves. You didn't know that did you? I have explained the way to color the leaves on poinsettias that are living a long and lovely life as a houseplant. Fourteen hours of complete darkness for 5 to 6 weeks. I actually did this with a poinsettia and got it to turn a pale red in it's second winter with me. I felt like Mrs. Wizard.

It snowed overnight. Just an inch or two but it feels more like winter now. Riley loves the snow and wants to go out, go out, go out. He has squirrels to track and chase. He ran through the Invisible Fence this afternoon. I don't think he felt anything. No jolt of electricity. So now we have to stand at the window and watch him. I whistled for him when he was in the woods and he came right home. But if he gets too far, he may not hear us or may get confused and lost. It's too cold here at night for a house dog to be lost in the woods. And there are coyote.

The crew Christmas party was fun. We were the "old" people (G & I). Old enough to be the grandparents of most of the others. But they didn't treat us that way. They expected us to "get jiggy" with them. We laughed a lot. I have very nice co-workers. VERY nice.

This week we are going to a cocktail party hosted by the team that manages our 401K. How's that for a brave and daring thing to do???? Wow. And then on the weekend, the Art Walk Open House at the gallery where my quilts are on display. I have to be there Saturday and Sunday to talk with any guests who come see my work. I hope someone comes.

We had the last of the Thanksgiving Turkey, roasted to a fair thee well, with BBQ sauce and served on cheese covered corn chips with salsa, sour cream and jalapenos. Turkey Nachos. I did get the turkey a little too brown (really, there was some black) but when you roast it till crispy with BBQ sauce it almost tastes like pulled pork. (which I like better than turkey) I made Mexican Black Bean Bisque and it is very spicy and hot. Too hot. Next time I will skip the red pepper and jalapenos.

All the Thanksgiving pies are gone. Eaten. Today I baked caramel walnut brownies for G's desserts. I think I will be skipping dessert at home for a few weeks. I do have parties to attend and WILL eat dessert at parties if the dessert looks delicious. And I have nuts in the shell to snack on. Walnuts and Almonds. We always had a bowl of mixed nuts when I was a kid. At Christmas only. When my kids were little, we always had large bowls of naval oranges in December and I would peel several oranges for the two of them every day. I wonder if they still eat oranges?

I was going to work on my handmade Christmas cards today but I worked on the evergreen head ornament for the Hindu Goddess by my front door (pictures to come) and I took apart the Thanksgiving table centerpiece and made it over into a Christmas centerpiece with evergreens, pine cones and Christmas balls (which are too large and need to be replaced).

I'm going to go watch some TiVo (Mansfield Park) while G watches the football game. See Ya!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Beginning To Look Like Christmas

My Advent board is back and I have three items on it: my twelve by twelve, a folded paper trivet and a little swag of greens I'm working on for my Hindu goddess out on the porch. I figured out how to fold and wrap the paper for the trivet and now I have to contemplate how to fold fabric to make some little pieces. AND I have to work on my original Christmas trees for my cards. I have sewn, painted, collaged paper for my cards in past years. I just need to clear the decks, get out supplies and "play" until something strikes me as "it".

Last year I made ornaments with whatever I had to hand and I also cherry picked stuff off of trees in the attic with handmade stuff on them. This year I will have project ideas on my advent board. A month of daily ideas or work in progress.

We have better Christmas music at work. Instrumentals. All that caroling gets tedious and a nice instrumental clears the head. Still enjoying Santa Baby with Eartha Kitt, the Beachboys, and Elvis's Blue Christmas. No chipmunks, which is sad. No Gramma getting run over by Santa which is very good. No frogs croaking out Jingle Bells. Ugh!

Wreaths, trees and poinsettias are selling, finally. No matter what the economy is doing, we gotta have a little merry Christmas in our hearts and homes.

What's Good Today: Thanksgiving Turkey is finished. We still have some apple pie but the pumpkin is gone. Black beans are soaking for some Black Bean Bisque. Tonight's dinner is baked potatoes, sauteed pork steaks, steamed green beans and applesauce. Dog is out for his daily walk. Sun is shining. Time to pack my lunch and dress for work.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Friend of Twelve by Twelve

I had all sorts of "good ideas" but no time to go down to the studio to work on them. So here is what I could accomplish yesterday evening. I had a"number" of fabrics with numbers printed on them and the selvages of other fabrics yielded colorful strips of numbers. I'm not proud of this but I am finished. The gray patterned fabric represents my gray matter (brain) trying to add all these numbers together. In the end: I would guess which is why I added that word to the piece. In the days, weeks, months ahead I may add more items to this collage. As I find them.

I may do a small piece of just numbers from the edges of fabrics. They are polka dots after all.

In school, numbers were like a foreign language to me. I still add by counting out the numbers with the tip of my pencil. Five plus seven? Five and then I count out seven taps (6,7 etc). I'm fond of Suduko because it seems like math but it's actually logic.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Not Quite Ready

Today I slept late, skipped breakfast and went for a walk with my walking buddy N. N is back from Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday and will be returning to Florida on Tuesday. We took Riley along for the walk. And, after, we had a coffee in my kitchen. I miss walking every morning with N like I did in 2008. I now have a job and N has a delightful baby grandson.

I treated G to the one movie, in a theater, that I see in a year. 2008. James Bond. It was quite good and I don't hate the new Bond as much as I did the first time. He does have lovely eyelashes. I may be seeing Angels & Demons in 2009. We saw the preview and this may be my only chance of seeing Rome again.

My floral arrangement for Thanksgiving. Today the lilies (orange ones) opened and the arrangement looks a bit better, more colorful. It was very nice, having flowers, on the holiday table. I need to do more of that. We still have turkey in the fridge and that's good because I didn't go to the grocery today.

I will be late with my 12 by 12. I haven't been in the correct frame of mind for artwork. I'm doing better everyday, but my emotions are a bit erratic. Yesterday, I was reliving the last day of my dad's life. I don't know why. It just seemed like I needed to sort it out, examine it, and then put it away. I still feel like I should call him. See if he's okay.

Tomorrow. Cold. Rain. Work. I had wanted to get a few pictures of the greenhouse full of red, white and pink "points" but the light may not be there. Tomorrow, I will continue to make holiday boxes of evergreens and winter berry and add pine cones to make State of Maine wreaths. I won't be getting home till it's good and dark as my new schedule is all "closing". All I want to do after work is shower and go to bed. Riley and I are both on the same wave length in the "dark days" of winter. If it's dark, we sleep.

Mansfield Park on Masterpiece Theater tonight. I just love Jane Austen. And, perhaps, a slice of pie and some tea. And, to all, a goodnight!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

We are having an experimentally traditional dinner today. We prepped the turkey last night before bed and set the alarm for 4:30 am and tucked the bird in the electric roaster at 275 degrees and we are roasting the 20 pound bird for 12 hours.

I have roasted the turkey neck with a quartered onion and 2 carrots until dark brown and it (along with all the scraped bits from the roasting tray) is now simmering away with some chicken stock. This will become gravy.

The pumpkin pie is in the oven alongside a reconstituted dried apple pie with crumble topping. My recipe book calls a crumble topped apple pie, French Apple Pie and, you all know, I am fond of all things French. I reconstituted the apples with farm stand apple cider.

My sweet potatoes are roasted and waiting for butter and brown sugar. I zested and sectioned a navel orange and chopped it in the processor with a bag of fresh cranberries, sugar and ginger and it is now getting acquainted in the fridge. I have the canned variety to serve also for the less daring members of the family. It is TART.

I still have stuffing to prepare (out of the bird), potatoes to peel, cook and mash, and Brussels sprouts to steam. Cream to whip. Dinner will be served at 5. I also have a floral centerpiece to fabricate from a market bouquet I purchased at work.

There is nothing else in the fridge. I am amazed that we managed to eat every other thing in there over the past three or four days. Yesterday we had leftover Pumpkin Fettucine, leftover BBQ pork and a lovely wild green salad with oil and balsamic vinegar. It was divine together. We were both surprised as it is a very weird combo.

I still need to take a shower and get dressed. My neighbor has been over already and brought us a lovely card and bottle of wine. She is thankful we pick up her mail and take in her garbage cans. I'm thankful she's my neighbor. She's thankful we are her neighbors.

I am thankful for a healthy family; a strong, paid for, roof over my head; good food to eat; good friends and neighbors; a good dog; a good job; and the prospect of a good game of Scrabble this evening after dinner. Today is a very GOOD day!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Do Over

The "do over". Have you ever contemplated what might have happened "IF" you had made a different choice, gone in another direction, could do something now, with all the experience you have accumulated?

This is a good, fictional premise used best in "It's A Wonderful Life". George wished he hadn't been born and in the movie, no one stepped up to do the good deeds George would have done, if he had been born. I have always wondered why everyone in Baileyville went bad without George? He wasn't the sunniest of personalities and just sort of blundered along, and I don't think Mary was all that happy with her choice of husband. As depressed as he was all the time.

The "wish I had done this" theme is good for daydreams. I'm not so sure what it would be like if it really happened. One small change and the rest of "everything" changes? So if I had, as an example, paid more attention in school, would I have gotten a good job? I like to imagine I would have.

The things I would change? I would have dated more. I always said no when anyone asked. I was afraid (and my dad was a drunk with a gun) and so I thought I was protecting the boys from an early death. I wish I had read my books, done my homework and actually learned something in school. I learned quite a bit (by accident), but I never really tried very hard. The odd moments when I actually applied myself to the work, well, that was wonderful.

I would change the whole chunks of my life where I fell under the influence of depression. When depressed, I sleep, read and eat. I just try to get through a 24 hour period with the least amount of conscious thinking. It is of interest to me that I have never suffered from depression while employed. So I try to always have some sort of job.

If I had it to "do over" I would be braver, smile more, say hello to people first, dress better, always have a job, paint pictures (even very bad pictures), always have flowers in the house, have more children, learn to drive sooner, speak French, visit my friends more often (even though they live far away and it costs so much to travel).

And moving to Maine and owning McDonald's restaurants here was so WRONG. We should have stayed in the suburbs of Chicago and G should have worked for the corporation until he retired. That move was the biggest, single, mistake of our lives. Yes, we NOW love it here, but the struggle and the toll it has taken on each of us, together and separately, has not been worth it. Being here, has nearly destroyed G, sent me into very long periods of depression, separated us from lifelong friends (who won't come to Maine) and family (who won't come, either) and has seriously limited G's ability to find good work.

If I was to have a "do over", I would want it for September, 1991. G and I would go to Hawaii on the company's dime and NOT go to Boston, not sell our house, not buy two crappy restaurants. I would choose the art department of the magazine where I worked. I would choose the life I wanted, not the pipe dream G wanted, until he had it, and HATED it for every moment of the next ten years. Perhaps, he is hating it all even now, 17 years later. Hard to say as he rarely talks anymore.

In September of 1991 we were happy. In November of 1991 we were deeply depressed. And here we are in November of 2008. Is this all there is? Send in the clowns. Please.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Good Things Happening

I am in the midst of some cleaning projects but wanted to post before the holiday rush begins. I got all my dad's papers sorted and filed, ready to start sending out copies and notarized letters for the estate. The caretaker for Dad's house needs a key for the snowblower. I want to wash the outside of the windows.

But first, I want to tell you about something that happened a week or more ago. My quilts are on display at MaineFiberworks and that is a big deal but it got even better on November 14th. Maine Public TV sent a videographer over to film my show and they put it on the air, over the credits, on Maine Watch. I will give you a link to the Maine Watch site and you can go there and select the November 14th program on composites (which is interesting) and you can skip the video ahead repeatedly until you get to 25.00 approx. Then wait. Jennifer Rooks will mention fiber arts and then say my name and show the sign on the door and then you will see my quilts. I wanted to have a YouTube video for all of you and we may still be able to do this in a while but right now, this is the best I can do:

If this doesn't work for you, search for Maine Watch on Dogpile (my favorite search engine).

I have Monday off and then will be working through Saturday. I expect we will be very busy on Friday and Saturday, selling Christmas Trees, wreaths and Poinsettias. I have new tires on my truck and the wheels are aligned (they were NOT aligned) so I will be driving MUCH safer from now on and not sliding toward the center line and fighting the wheel back to the right.

I want to make something small and Christmasy to sell at the December 12,13,14 open house at Fiberworks. Handmade cards or very small, inexpensive works which people can afford to purchase. In order to do this: I need to WORK.

Have a very peaceful, warm and happy Thanksgiving my dear friends.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What's a Blogger To Do?

Yesterday I was notified that my blog was rated as a 7.4 out of ten. Very Good. So I went to the website to see the competition. I'm now wondering if they sent the notification to the correct Wednesday's Child. The others had way cool graphics, pop ups etc. Perhaps my writing skills?

I am a closet competitor. Left on my own, I will wander and procrastinate all day long, but give me a taste of someone doing better than me and I get all interested in "winning". Now, I'm wondering about these new additions to my blog:

1. Controversy. Like rants, arguments, strong opinions expressed strongly

2. More artistic content. Like SOME rather than the NONE I am now providing

3. Better writing. I am capable of better prose, memorable word pictures and thoughtful images. Humor is too difficult for me, longterm, as I am best at deadpan wit. Hard to do with the typed word.

4. Learn how to do dazzling techno stuff and skip the whole CONTENT problem

5. Remain as I am and be content with my 7.4 rating. Stop coveting the 9.8 through 7.6. Feel superior to those with a 7.2 and lower.

Those are my thoughts today. Time to pack my lunch and go off to work. It's 15 degrees here in Maine. BRISK. The ground is crunchy with ice.

I'm hoping the three foot snake plant I ordered for a customer looks decent and I can pot it up for him in the newly sanitized pot. Wow, was the dirt in the pot he brought in STINKY. I'm wondering if they got the remaining 187 wreaths done yesterday (my day off) or will I have to bow up some more. We ordered new tires for my truck and they go on tomorrow. No more "slip/sliding" around on the drive home. I think I'll drive the roadster to work again today and use the awesome seat heaters to toast my rear parts while my head freezes (ragtop).

Be warm! See you later!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Countdown To Thanksgiving

Each year at this time, I begin doing calculations. When do I buy the turkey. I usually have no room in the freezer for one of the uber cheap frozen birds-- right now 47 cents a pound -- and I am seriously considering placing the frozen object of my desire (at this moment) in my daughter's freezer. The New York Times has printed my annual turkey grave recipe complete with roasting legs, wings (if you can find any) days before and making a vat of turkey stock. Did they steal it from me or did I read it in their newspaper years ago?

I have already purchased my 59 cents a pound sweet potatoes, my cranberries, my dried bread for stuffing and I have a half bag of Maine potatoes for mashing in the fridge. I still need Brussels sprouts (my garden ones failed to produce sprouts) and since I am not on the "365 day healthy eating plan" this year, I could make green bean casserole this year. I'm the only one who loves it. I could just make a small portion. I will try to remember to bake dinner rolls or I could ask Sam to make them. And pie. I need to bake a pie. Or two pies.

Sam wants to do some sort of crafty thing while dinner bakes. We burned our fingers with hot glue one Thanksgiving while attaching faux candies to a wooden doll house for a gingerbread look. It was more fun (I think) hunting for things that "looked like candy" and making Sculpty cookies and peppermints, but Sam liked the hot glue and glitter part. So I think we will be making something with Mardi Gra beads. I will blog the entire "experience" so don't worry about missing out on the fun and glue burns. G is making the framework for us.

At work, we are in the midst of a huge wreath order. 300 wreaths with red bows. We are just attaching the pre made bow and then a hanging wire but it takes time and yesterday we made 123 with three or four of us working on the project at the "Christmas table" (lots of fun and laughter). We all had to leave for periods of time to water plants, repot plants, talk to customers on the phone, eat lunch, haul stuff off the delivery truck etc. It was a brisk 23 degrees and I was in a greenhouse or outdoors all day. Once the sun was gone, it got very cold, and we were still hauling things out to the unheated plastic greenhouse. Needless to say, a nice HOT shower and some pajamas was my reward after work. And Top Chef on tv. They failed miserably the second episode and Padema even spit some of the food out into her napkin. I've had to do that. Not good.

Today I will see what G has been doing up in the attic. He says he has been sorting the contents into trash, Goodwill and keeper piles. I need to check and see if things are sorted correctly. Then I will help carry the Goodwill stuff down the stairs and onto the truck. The trash part will be more time consuming to dispose of. No convenient dumpster parked in the driveway. G has "found" boxes from either our move here in 1991 or our move from Germany to Chicago in 1988. Still sealed. So whatever is inside has not been needed or missed in 17 or 20 years. I personally think there may even be boxes from our move from Chicago to Germany in 1982. The packrat gene is alive and well in my DNA.

Sam just called and has stuff for a "dump run" so we may have a solution to the "no dumpster" problem. A load of stuff to the Town dump.

And do we have a nice lunch at our favorite lunch restaurant? We do enjoy it so very much and it would be our only meal "out" this week. And all the bills are paid. sigh.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Morning

Enough! No more whining. Whatever happens; happens. I can no more control events than I can control the weather. I am going to just move forward, as best I can, and enjoy life.

I tore this little dining room picture from an art magazine. Makes me imagine lovely meals and conversation with friends and family. Wine. Laughter. Candlelight. My sweetest indulgence is restaurant meals. I'm a very good cook, but there is something about being waited on, ordering food and just being OUT that I love. I'm going to pin this little photo to my wall, right here over the laptop, and daydream about my favorite restaurant memories.

And I'm going to COOK! Today I am making meatballs and marinara sauce. And tomorrow or the next day, we'll have meatball subs. The combination of onion, garlic, tomato and basil is the best room freshener in the world.

Yesterday was the greenhouse Christmas Open House and we were busier than we have been in a month or so, so that was wonderful. I learned how to decorate the State of Maine wreath and they sold six of the wreaths I made (;-) and then I made winter boxes, potted gift plants and ordered things for customers. I did NOT eat any of the cookies on the refreshment table, my holiday plan is no cookies, so that was a difficult thing to do since my favorite cookie was on that table. A slab of shortbread cookie with a slab of chocolate on top. Belgian.

I've done two loads of laundry already, made waffles for breakfast, watched the CBS Morning Show, Ina's Barefoot Contessa, and gave up on Giada and her turkey ravioli. I have bills to pay, files to sort and then I will move on down to the quilt studio and do something. Sew or sort or clean, it doesn't matter. Whatever it is will make me happy. I'm so done with being sad.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Saving Money

No, Mister Mc G is NOT burying money in the yard. He is digging up the opening to our septic tank so we can save $25. The way I took the picture, it looks like he has lost his head but it's still there. So, if we dig up the dirt over the tank opening, we save $25 and the septic guy doesn't have to do that part of the job. Every business is doing their part to offer discounts these days.

I will be "laid off" in January and February and return to work in March. This is good news for me as I really hate driving in the winter and I have so many loose ends here to take care of; I need some time. I can also claim unemployment. The "biggest" good news is that I will be returning in the spring. I guess I'm not temp anymore. WooHoo!

But right now, we have the big Christmas Open House with cookies and cider on the weekend, poinsettias, decorated trees and winter boxes. The winter boxes are for cemetery decoration. At the greenhouse, the poinsettias are called "points". I have been helping bundle up the greens for sale in five pound bundles. I wanted to tie them up with red ribbon but the other gals said that was a "little too Martha". I have to control my "Martha" wannabe instincts. I did add nice bows to the wrapped boxes under the open house tree. Looks cute.

My cough is still bothering me and my ear canals and throat feel achy. I have been going to bed early, sleeping longer and feeling a bit better each morning. It's a great mood enhancer to spend the day in the greenhouse (when the sun is shining) because it gets nice and warm in there, the dirt smells are comforting and the flowers and greens are all damp and fresh. The only downside is I usually want to find a place to sit down and close my eyes and take a nap. There is NO place to sit in the greenhouse. Hard to nap standing up, though I did have a friend who could fall asleep standing up, holding a wineglass, at cocktail parties. He said he was only "resting his eyes".

G is measuring the attic for insulation. He always tackles some big job when he is out of work and this time is no different. I think the living room (below the attic space) would be much warmer if we insulated the attic. So now we have to see what this will cost and figure it all out. He insulated all the hot water pipes in the basement in the spring and we have used less oil since then heating the domestic water supply. And the water is hotter on delivery.

I started work on another Garden piece. As usual, my first thoughts weren't my best, but I will eventually figure out how to make something that means something and looks good. At the same time. I also have to see if I have any work using African fabrics (a request from a dealer for her website), and investigate a show postcard for my show. My show. Well!

Last night we had baked beans, grilled cheese sandwiches and my homemade zucchini pickles for dinner. Tonight, soup. Chicken noodle for G and escarole and white bean for me. Yesterday I had butternut bisque for lunch. My 18 year old coworker made fun of the "bisque" reference. He said it looked like "soup" to him. I said all soup is soup but not all soup is bisque.

I love working with teenagers. LOVE IT!!!!! Except for their "f****'in" language usage.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Other Shoe Drops

This piece has been on the design wall long enough and as soon as I can talk G into re-installing my sewing machine into the sewing table (he took it apart when I thought I was taking the machine with me to Ohio, when I thought my dad was going to get better) and now I need to get back to work on my sewing projects.

I made my usual mistake with this piece and used a flat one piece background. For some odd reason, I liked working this way. Now I know better. I try and make an interesting pieced or layered background and THEN build forward. Rather than build the piece and THEN try and add depth to the background. Of course, there are many pieces that are just flat. No attempt at depth. And others where I have succeeded beyond possibility (according to the gallery people). I listen to what the gallery people say but go with what I KNOW. The work they say is my best is not.

I finally found Knox gelatine at the supermarket and will be experimenting with gelatine monoprints on fabric. I will share my adventures with you. I will even be painting white muslin in the weeks to come to layer in my background work. I want to make Fall and Winter Garden quilts for my series before the "meet the artist" reception at the gallery in December. I just need to set a deadline and work, work, work.

I have even greater hopes for Obama now. My husband is unemployed as of Friday and we now have no health insurance or income. And we live in Maine where jobs are part time at best and winter is long and cold. If I was bordering on depression before, well, now it's going to be a struggle. The work on quilts will be therapeutic.

I'm going to believe that life doesn't give you more than you can handle. But right now it seems like I do have more than I can handle and then more comes my way with the loss of G's job, my dad's death, my dad's estate and winter, never my best season. Hang on. I think I'm in for a bumpy ride!

Friday, November 07, 2008

All's Well

Thank you to all the readers and blog friends who sent along their thoughts and prayers on the passing of my Dad. If there is a heaven, my dad is skate dancing around the big roller rink and sipping coffee and "sugary snacks" with all his departed friends wondering why he waited so long to join them. My dad loved LIFE and held on way longer than any of his family thought possible but I think he is happy now.

And I can relax and not worry about him falling, tripping over the dogs, being sick with no one nearby, being lonely, being frightened as he was during the five days without power in September of this year (they had a bad storm), not eating properly, taking too much or not enough of his medicines etcetera.

I have a heap of new garlic cloves to plant and I hope a friend takes more than half of this bounty for her own garden. I have returned to work and am happily working part time and only 3 or 4 days a week which gives me breathing room to pursue other interests. My daughter wants the two of us to work on a "project" together like we did on the Gingerbread House two or three years ago. Sounds good. I always like a project that involves glue.

I have an idea for another quilt in the Garden Series. I have pieces to finish. I feel a renewed energy to get things moving in the quilt studio and I have two good books waiting for pick up at my library so I can kick back and read all day if I choose.

Riley has discovered real squirrels. He moves at lightning speed and it's only a matter of time and opportunity and a misstep by the squirrel and Riley will actually catch one. Any ideas on what happens if he does catch one? Riley consoles himself, when he misses a squirrel, with his stuffed squirrel toy. He holds it gently in his mouth as he gazes out the window at the real squirrels. Such an intelligent pupperoni.

(It's now Saturday afternoon and Riley has given up the parts of a red squirrel that he either found dead or caught and killed. We said "no" and he dropped the body. ICK!)

Now it's breakfast, coffee, the OP pages of the NYTimes and then work. Later!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Time to Vote

Yesterday went well. I got up, showered, dressed and went out to do an errand. Today I will go out to vote and then drive over to my work place and see what's going to happen. I am not on the work schedule for November and I think I am happy about that. There are so many things I want to do, for myself. So many things I need to do, for my Dad's estate. I need time. Quiet.

Today's Painter's Key was about something odd. Abused children. And how they find happiness in quiet solitary pursuits involving the gentleness and nurture of nature and the private joy of creativity. I felt like this was a message sent directly to me.

Thank you to everyone who wrote to express their sympathy. The little messages brightened what could have been a dark day here in Maine.

I went over to FiberArts to measure and put prices on my work and add some additional small pieces. It took much longer than I anticipated and the building was very cold. I forgot my guest book for people to leave messages but have it now, ready to drop off.

I tried to explain that I do what I do, for myself and not for public sales, publicity or fame. I make things because I want to try a technique or try for a certain "look" or because it's something I want to make for my own enjoyment. Pricing these "pieces of myself" isn't easy or fun. The trappings of business: slides, postcards, files, prices, taxes is all more than I want. Yes. I could make money. But what do I have to GIVE in order to GET?

Perhaps if I were younger, fiercer, hungrier. If the money meant more to me. If FAME was something that drew me to it's flame. But I'm older. Time is shifting. I'm next.

So here I am, in my red robe, waxing philosophic on my little blog. The first quilt in my garden series turned out fantastic. I am interested in trying to make another. Fall. I am itching to get some fabric and batting and begin to work backwards (from my usual way of doing things) and see what I can create. The show, seeing my work as it is meant to be seen, has energized me. Perhaps that is why we have shows? To let the artist see the work as it is meant to be seen. In a room, on it's own wall, in good light.

Now--- go vote!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Far, Far Away and Back

I am home again. I now have a cold, a weak voice, am bone tired and have more worries than I can handle. My father is dead.

I was going to journal it all, here. But now that I am sitting here at the keyboard, I would rather write about anything BUT. I will say that filling a 40 cubic yard dumpster with the packrat accumulation of 86 years is not a task I would wish on MY children.

My husband and I were joined by a church going man named Daniel who offered to help us in exchange for anything we didn't want to keep. Daniel was a gift from God, I think. I am not religious, but I am spiritual and I can't explain his entry in my world any other way. He just appeared. He quietly helped my husband and I as we worked in cold, wet weather to collect, sort, bag and haul so much stuff. We worked all day and never had a break, even for lunch.

We took carloads of food to the local food pantry including almost 20 two pound cans of coffee and 10 bottles of laundry detergent, 20 pounds of bagged rice and two huge boxes of boxed food. All the usable kitchen goods. Small appliances. Sewing machine. Irons. Shoes. Clothes. Bedding. Tools. Furniture. Everything else went into the dumpster.

I'm sure my father's neighbors and friends who watched us dismantle my father's home, on the days after his death were disgusted and repelled. But do not judge if you haven't walked that same path. If you lived 812 miles from this house, wouldn't you want it empty? And it does now belong to me. And I must now insure and protect it.

One evening as I washed our filthy clothing, the sump pump backed up and my husband and I sat there, realizing for the first time, that this house and any of it's problems, were now OUR problems. We both we so very tired, exhausted, and were faced with getting the pump to work and then worrying about it not working with us so far away. I think this is when we hit rock bottom.

I have not had time to grieve for my father. It will come, in it's time.

Right now I have banks, bills, insurance, taxes and the attorney to think about. Four large bags of papers to sort through. My own house to deal with now that I have returned to it, 8 days later. My own refrigerator to clean out, as I cleaned his out. More garbage bags to fill and carry out.

I feel empty. Home again.

My show is doing well, and if I ever get my price list and guest book to the gallery, I may have a sale and some comments. See it at

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

There's No Business Like Show Business

Well, I have entered the world of quilt show business. I have had my "body" of work accepted for a very large fiber gallery show. A one woman show for two months. This is all more than my ego can process tonight. I am having wine and potato chips to celebrate.

Tomorrow, I will wonder about the business cards I need. The post cards I need. The poster the gallery will be making to advertise "my show". All the aspects of this SURPRISING development that was offered to me at 3 pm on Friday. I am having trouble believing all this is happening to ME! ME! ME! Tomorrow I will work on the "price list".

I worked all weekend and called out of work Monday, to keep working. Last night when I went to bed, I was sure it was all for nothing. I had hit the "wall" of complete exhaustion. My dear husband was sure of my success. He is always my best supporter. His job, this morning, was to deliver the works of fabric art to the gallery for examination, while I returned to my job.

The gallery director called me at work, happy. So happy. And I am still in shock. They liked my work. They really liked my work.

So okay. I think maybe my feet will touch the ground any minute now.

Or not.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday, Can I Get It All Done?

There was a dog here when I picked up the camera.

We have had our "official" first frost overnight. The grass is white with icy moisture, the dahlias are black and the colorful oranges, yellows and reds of the hardwoods are now all a mottled brown. Soon they will drop all their leaves in big wet piles. The "Dark Times" begin. I have the furnace running but it doesn't seem to be getting any warmer in here.

Today is going to be a marathon of work and frustration. I have been invited to collect all my "stuff" and bring it in for examination (with very short notice) with the possibility of a two month exhibition at a very NICE venue. I was excited. Then I began going through my "collection" and the amount of work needed to get it all ready for Tuesday morning (the call came Friday afternoon) is overwhelming. Add to that the specter of being rejected and you have an event of epic proportions.

Yesterday would have been a good day to work on this but I had committed to a Master Gardener Conference with a friend and just couldn't justify skipping it. We see each other so rarely and had made plans last month for this one day together. So all I have is today. And I can call in sick to work on Monday if things go badly today.

I have work to prepare for hanging. I don't always sew on pockets. I have a quilt to "borrow" from the library and it needs a hanging pocket or something. I have new things which are not finished. No backs or binding or pockets. I have a work in progress (beginning) which I would like to show because most of the work is older and this is new and more in keeping with my interests now. I have two framed pieces which hang in my bedroom which I love and refuse to sell but want to show. If I bind two more pieces they can also be framed and shown and sold.

The shadowbox frames were purchased from Pottery Barn and I kick myself daily for not buying 10 of them before they were discontinued. A gorgeous frame for $59 seemed too expensive at one time and now seems like a really good price. Stupid mistake.

Nine in the morning. I bid you adieu and will check in on Tuesday to let you know if I made it into the gallery or not. Luck will have nothing to do with it. It's all hard work.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Week In Review

The days are going by in a "blur" which always seems to happen once fall arrives. From Halloween to Christmas is just a matter of minutes in time.

The days at the green house are full and varied. I have questions to answer, plants to haul to and fro, bugs to fight, floors to sweep and lunch to look forward to. Yes, I admit to having lunch as the high point of my day. See, I get to actually sit down and be still at lunch.

Yesterday I hauled mums, watered the greenhouse, sprayed bugs, unloaded the big truck from Florida (foliage, cactus, orchids), packed up all the cut back perennials (hosta/iris) for shipment back to our solar greenhouses, scrubbed the floor where Maxine the cat peed, helped a customer select a new family member for his household (a kumquat tree named George), potted George, wrapped George in plastic so the car upholstery stayed clean and wished them both a happy and productive life together. While I did all this, George's new owner was texting all his friends regarding his new plant. No pictures. At one point in my day, I punched out and drove into town to pay my real estate taxes. Very patriotic.

On that subject, being patriotic for paying taxes. I wonder how we would all live if no one paid for services rendered and expected? I know Palin doesn't need schools (home schooling), fire or police protection or health insurance. The "government" provides all that for free for it's employees. And, gosh, the "friends" of government also build houses for "free". George Bush (both of them) held "fund raisers" to collect millions in cash for a "new house" for AFTER they left Washington and returned to Texas. Palin got hers BEFORE. Oops.

So what would it be like if no one had to pay taxes? And we still waged war. Well, I think it would be like it has been for eight years. No roads or bridge work done. Potholes everywhere. No Child Left Behind testing rather than any actual teaching. Raises for all government employees. Fantastic health insurance plans and retirement benefits for congress and all the employees in the military. And for the rest of us? Stay healthy. Or die. Makes no never mind to this administration. None of the wealth or benefits will ever trickle down to our level.

So we pay our way. Taxes. Drive on roads that destroy our cars. Pay way too much for gasoline and heating oil so Texas oil companies have "extra cash" to share with George (for his house: they shared close to 70 million $'s with George and Laura this summer so she could go "house shopping"). Have our kids in school learning the answers to the state questions so they get a good score but can't make change or answer simple common sense questions or find states or countries on a blank map. Have government employees who refuse to accept anything but the highest quality health benefits in contract negotiations but refuse to cover uninsured children.

And wait for another Republican to FINALLY end the Social Security system they absolutely DETEST. See, if you can't take care of yourself, or have friends and family to take care of you, then WHY should Republicans have to help you out???? Just die and save everyone the trouble of taking care of you. An actual Republican said this to me. A sweet, rich elderly woman. Everyone on welfare (social security) would be better off --- dead. As they are are not "contributing" by earning a "taxable" living. And the disabled? Well, you can guess what she had to say about that.

People, we need to vote for the "smart one" this year. Really!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

On My Mind

Lessons of the Past
Today began as usual with coffee and toast. But as I dug through the attic storage room, to get to the stored "Spooky House", I was concerned by the "EXCESS" that was stored up there. I took an armload of little children's quilts I had made for my daughter when she had story time at preschool (she was the teacher, not the preschooler). They are going into the washer and then to Linus quilts or to the local animal shelter for the dogs and cats to snuggle into. I also brought down a full size comforter. It's in the washer now and when clean and dry will go into a dog bed cover and replace one of Riley's beds or go to a new home by way of Goodwill.

The lesson: Use what you already have.

When I got dressed this morning, I dug around in the shirt closet (yes we have an entire closet devoted to cotton tee shirts). It could be worse (depending on your preferences) because the closet was built in by the original owners for SHOES. Anyway, after finding a lovely gray long sleeve tee (from Goodwill), I instantly wished I had a second one. Why? I always want MORE. If one is good, two is better. If 9 tomato seeds germinate, I want 12. If I'm scheduled for 8 hours, I want 10 like someone else got. If one Sharpie pen is great, a dozen is better.

Not with everything. I have an old used truck now with no add ons (crank windows). I don't want any other truck or any gadgets. I don't drive my ultra fancy BMW more than once a week, on my day off, just to charge the battery. The truck is what I have always wanted and needed.

Anyway, the lesson for today and for the future. I can only wear ONE gray shirt at a time, so therefore, one shirt is enough. And since I rarely, if ever, wear any of my clothes out, I will probably only need this one gray shirt. This pair of jeans. This flannel, plaid shirt. My outfit. All from Goodwill and all very nice and soft and comfortable.

The lesson: Own only what you really need.

The stock market is going into free fall and people are buying daffodil bulbs to plant this weekend, buying flowers, getting married and having green foliage plants repotted. Life is going on as usual. What am I doing? Wondering how I can maximize this situation: what should I buy? Land, real estate, low priced stocks. I would really like one of those 250K houses in Florida that are selling for 52K. Or the 700K house that sold for 92K with a walk thru double shower. The new owners were jumping up and down and pinching themselves. They had sold their big house in Connecticut and got this amazing bargain in Florida, sight unseen on the internet. A dream house. Built on spec, never sold, foreclosed.

Doesn't this all seem surreal? The economy. Gas and oil prices falling to less than $80 a barrel and $3.17 a gallon so far. The Dow at 8000 down 25%. GM going into bankruptcy with it's stock selling for less than it did in 1929. Ford is failing also. All those BIG, LOADED, GAS GUZZLING, LUXURY vehicles are now going to be selling for nickels and dimes IF anyone wants them, which I doubt. So they will be carted off to the junk yard, crushed and shipped to China where they will be made into some sort of junk and shipped back to us in time for Christmas 2009.

The lesson: Time will tell what we learn from all this.

I was brought up on stories of the Great Depression. I always have ready cash, food stores and the ability to do without. I was born ready for the next Great Depression. I just need to control the "hoarding" instinct. I can't save everything. But I can try to USE what I already have. And today I will be trying to use what I already have. I hope you will do the same.

We are having a "summery" October here in Maine. Warm, sunny days and cool nights with all the autumn colors in the trees against a clean, clear blue sky. It's quiet also. Not much "traffic" noise. Not much traffic. I have daffodils to plant, tulips to plant, dahlias to dig up and store in the cellar. I will "save" a few moments (maybe more) to just sit and enjoy the beauty around me today. Life is good.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Things To Do

Roses to plant. Halloween. Gardening. Bills to pay. Airborne to take. I have had a week here that is mostly good stuff with a bit of ICK.

My work days are a bit slow and I have been given the "opportunity" to go home early two days in a row. Now, the first time this happened I was so bored out of mind, I said "YES!" to going home early. Perhaps that wasn't the smartest thing to do? Since it was still daylight when I got home, I went out into the garden and pulled up the bean plants and harvested my shell beans, pulled up my squash vines and picked raspberries (which the dog ate when I was doing the beans). AFTER being on hold with the IRS for three renditions of the "Sugar Plum Fairies". And I still owe a "boatload" of money to them because of a mistake I made. Knew I made. Was waiting. The IRS guy was very helpful.

Yesterday I got to drain the water plant pools at work (siphon out all the water the smart Deb way) and dispose of the annual lettuce and hyacinth water plants. ICK. I took a 5 gallon bucket of the slimey things home for my compost. The remainder went into the bucket loader and then into the dumpster. I also helped toss rotten pumpkins into the bucket loader, unloaded new pumpkins and mums and finally helped unload bundles of corn stalks off a farm truck. Good times.

Today I was scheduled for lunch with my walking buddy (even if we have had no time to walk these days) but she called early this morning to report she had "caught" her baby grandson's cold. Just talking to her and listening to the runny nose and coughing led to sympathy cold symptoms --- so I started my day with the Airborne shooter, just in case.

I have a second load of laundry going already this morning and I really should make a batch of peach preserves today. Must find jars and boil them. I roasted Delicata squash and beets yesterday while heating up G's dinner, then baked some pita chips (if the oven is on, use it) for my lunches. I'll have the squash with some fried onion, raisins and steamed kale.

I returned to Big Lots to find that 3 of the 12 inch square stretched canvas had been sold, so I came away with only the last two. I read about mounting small pieces on stretched canvas on Jeanne Williamson's blog. She has cut up unsold construction fence quilts and reassembled them into interesting squares and mounted them on the stretched canvas. I am thrilled to learn that even a world famous quilter has trouble with the "potholder" designation for any small quilted pieces and found her solution a good one.

Another solution I have seen in Natasha Kempers-Cullen's studio is to make a pocket on the back of small pieces and slide a thin piece of wood into the pocket and then stitch the bottom edge closed. These hang on the wall like fabric plaques.

I once stretched an unbound 36 by 48 quilt over stretchers and stapled the edges to the back. It worked quite well and was easy to hang. The problem emerged when I wanted to enter the piece in a show. Had to remove it from the stretchers (no effect on the work) and finally trim and bind it.

Finding ways to make our fabric work look like the art it is, and not domestic linens, is a real problem. Those among us who are working with whole cloth which is dyed, painted or printed are having an easier time, IF, the work is large. Small work will always be a problem unless we all decide to frame it. Under glass. Hard to pull a pan of cookies out of the oven with a framed "potholder".

What's Good Today (or not): Sunshine, day off, G is home. Good stuff on tv tonight. That last debate was so bad. Same speeches and sound bites over and over again "my friends". The world is changing every second and people are scared. Both candidates need to get a clue here and step up to the plate. Now. Not in January. G and I will be working until the day we die. No sweet retirement for us, "my friend". But heating oil and gas are going down. $3.27 for gasoline here in Maine today. And a station locally went to $2.99 already so it's possible they are overcharging. OH! REALLY?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Is It Done Yet?

What do you get when you mix a bushel of Concord and merlot grapes with 20 pounds of sugar, four boxes of pectin, dozens of glass jars (which are very hot), a big canner full of boiling water, and electric stove element (red hot) and a puppy?

So far ......... I have one batch of grape jelly (didn't follow directions), (boiled over all over red hot stove element), (steam burn on hand while removing jars from boiling water). I also have a second batch of grape jelly (followed directions), (no boil over), and (no burns). I am now preparing (boiling for 10 minutes) the last bunch of tiny jars and a few pint jars, the last five cups of grape juice (I poured what was left down the sink because I am SO OVER making jelly right now), and I had to go to the store for lids, pectin, and 10 more pounds of sugar.

The puppy was motivated by his "lunch" to cause problems with the first batch of jelly. After all the DRAMA he decided to take a nap in another room until I was done making a jelly mess. What can I say? He's a genius.

What's Good Here: G is home from work, I got a cool book to read, a friend sent a huge bag of silk scraps my way, the sun is shining and we're having Thanksgiving Dinner for supper tonight minus the pumpkin pie. Tomorrow I'm making the Barefoot Contessa cheesecake with chunks of the super size Snickers bar I purchased today. Carbs Rule!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Friend of Twelve by Twelve

Shelter. Unfinished. So far, I have the shapes and a few lines of machine stitching and I hope to be able to add more stitching by hand later today. I keep returning to this discharged piece of black cotton for my 12 by 12 pieces. I had to really dig around in the piles in my studio to eventually find the remaining scrap -- just big enough for this. I had used some smaller scraps to piece with my own painted fabric (the bottom band) and had to cut that piece in half and piece it again to fit across the bottom.

The shelter's roots are "stretched" across the unknown to reach the safety of the green area. The house/shelter is sitting precariously on a thin strip of safe green. In any other September, I would have made one of my "oh so sweet little houses" sheltered by huge tulips. I do not feel "oh so sweet". I am thankful that our house is paid for, no mortgage, no loans. I don't care that the bathrooms are dated or that the kitchen is not my "dream" kitchen. I'm happy for a roof over my head, the possibility of purchasing enough oil to heat the house (iffy), and enough cut firewood to cook over an open fire in the yard if the economy tanks completely (I like to plan for any future problems - I just need a nice cast iron Dutch oven with lid and wire handle and some nice insulated fire gloves and we'll be ready).

I think it is very interesting that a number of the Twelve have used enduring shelter themes of rocks, caves in this economic crisis.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fabric Content

My "Trade Your Stash" loot. While I was Program Chair (one month) I had my chapter members pack up a bag of items from their quilting stash to trade for a bag of some one else's stash (only 12 out of 60 participated). I picked a bag and was delighted to find all sort of odds and ends from someone's crazy quilt adventure. Silks, velvets and laces. Today another chapter member called asking if I wanted her stash of silk tie remnants (I have a reputation for taking scraps). Is the Universe sending me a message? YES!

I've gotten to work, for just about an hour, on the Twelve by Twelve challenge for October. Shelter. The recent economic disaster makes me think of "sheltering my money" but that's not what I chose. Close. I sort of "tag a long" with the group but I'm not a member. But I do enjoy tagging along and the Twelve don't seem to mind.

I'm not really a member of anything besides this blog and it's readers.

I envy all of you with enthusiastic quilt chapters, guilds and mini groups. My chapter was very active and vibrant at one time and could be again, I think. I just wasn't the right catalyst to motivate them (Program) as they saw me as "too strange". There were a few who wanted to know and do what I am doing but they weren't vocal enough to override the majority.

In "What's New", I cut open the woven gift wrap and have my Rayna Gillman birthday present book on hand printed cloth open. My next grocery list will have a large box of gelatin on it. I want to try the gelatin monoprints first. As I was reading the book this morning, and seeing the listed items that could be used for printing, I was almost ready to jump into the truck, and head off to work on my Saturday off. We had so many of the printing items in the big trash box in the annual house yesterday. Bubble wrap, Christmas ornament plastic containers, styrofoam shapes. I hope we have more of that on Monday so I can save it from the dumpster.

I have some soy wax, not much, but perhaps enough to try a sample project. I also have a small "kit" box of dyes and print paste from a workshop with Hollis Chatelain. It's probably all expired but it's what I have on hand to experiment with and will do the job, I think.

What I love about Rayna's book (and her) is that she will go out, at night, with scissors, to collect pieces of construction fencing. Because she's "an artist". Rayna has also gone into the street to do a crayon rubbing of a manhole cover she thought was interesting. Again, because she is "an artist". I love that. I need to think of myself as "an artist" more often. All the time.

What's Happening today: Since G & I both have this weekend off (rare) and it's raining and we are both tired from working so much, I have been cooking and baking. We had a really big lunch that cleared out a lot of garden produce stored in the fridge. Fried squash with onions (a nice old southern dish), steamed rice, roasted beets, sliced cucumber in sour cream dill sauce and leftover turkey breast bones (with lots of meat still on them) roasted till crispy and brown for G. I just pulled an apple and dried cranberry crisp from the oven. That will be tasty later this evening with coffee. G and I like eating a big meal around 2 or 3 and then having something with coffee around 7:30.

The garden is slowly shutting down. Tomato plants have blackened and the squash vines have died back and I can see how many Delicata and Butternut squash I have. Lots! The celery needs a bit of paper wrapped around the bunches to blanch it a bit, but I like it deep green with a strong celery flavor. The leeks look good. Carrots are getting long and fat which reminds me that I need to try my hand at making the carrot, orange and ginger soup G likes to order at our favorite restaurant. I love the black bean bisque but Thursday I tried the butternut squash bisque and it was "out of this world" good. Simple food. Simply delicious.

I bought some grass seed to plant in the garden as winter protection and a nitrogen additive. I have been adding ground leaves and lime but I think I need to add more peat now and more lime. And cow manure. I'll stock up on bags of what I need when they go on sale. Soon. Right now G and Riley are asleep so I am going back to my studio--- cause I'm "an artist". And I need to be doing "art".

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sweet Home Alabama

I have been thinking lately of moving to someplace rural like Alabama and buying a farm (a small one) and growing vegetables, fruit trees and having chickens. I'm thinking of Alabama because I have a gut feeling the tax rate would be low, heating costs, land costs etc would be reasonable and there would be good dirt for a garden.

I open a dialog with any readers. Tell me what you think, know or suggest. My reading of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and the Slow Food Movement have lead me to this path.

Editor's Note (later in the day): I looked on line and the taxes are very low and you can buy hundreds of acres of woods for HUNTING of deer and squirrels. Why would you want to hunt squirrels? Not much in the way of a little farm with an attractive farmhouse and barn. There was a huge house that had 5 bedrooms, lake, in ground pool and it came with a tractor for the 24 acres. The price was pretty high but I thought I could be happy there. Oh, yeah! I do love a pool.

Sorry, but NO to the sheep. They are cute and they do "mow" the grass but I think they might "smell". I don't think I would even have the chickens. They aren't nice and they really do smell. Living near Birmingham and the offices for Southern Living would be way cool. Not really country.

Post 453

One of the piles of magazine and newspaper debris that are in piles on my table. A good piece of text, an interesting liner in a bill envelope, a little inspection slip of paper, a picture from a cigar box. All these things enchant me. And, eventually, if I live to be 100, they will be used to collage some flower in my journals.

Today I must make some decisions. Where to eat lunch and with whom. What to make for the 12 by 12 challenge. I have two ideas and so far have had "no time" to try either. I also need to decide if I want to invest time and energy (both in short supply right now) in being Program Chair for a group I really don't even want to belong to anymore. Guess I just made that decision. The next decisions will be made in the vegetable garden. Who moves into the kitchen for processing, who moves into the compost pile and who stays in the ground. We have had sunshine for two full afternoons so I hope more raspberries have ripened. So many on the vines and so little time left. I also have bulbs to plant. And $5 sale roses. No frost has blackened the red dahlias yet so they can stay put another week or so. I also need to decide if I want to start a cold weather crop of kale, beets and spinach. And do I want to plant garlic.

Next year, I am planting onions and potatoes in my small garden. I already decided on that.

I also decided to buy a lined vest or down filled vest to wear at work in the mornings and afternoons, when it's coldest. The greenhouse is nice and cozy (bright and warm) in the middle of the day with the only downside being wet socks. I might look and see if any of the boots I see sitting in the houses (filled with spiders and dirt) would fit me. Then I would have to clean them, dry them and remember to wear them when I water each day. This seems easy enough to do, but my day is so fragmented, I forget what I was in the middle of, when I get a request for help with a customer etc. Yesterday I spent most of the day up by the cash registers (answering questions, ringing up sales and working on my Suduko puzzle). And ended the day hauling pot mums across the parking lot and then watering them by dragging the hose across the parking lot. Around cars and trucks and customers. I decided on Chinese for supper last night.

I think I began this blog three years ago at the end of September. I need to check on that. I used to work and rework my blog entries to make them witty and charming and no one ever read them. Now I use the blog as it must have been intended, as just a way to express my thoughts, in journal form. And if someone enjoys reading--- well, that's the wonder of the blog! I have figured out, over the years, how to occasionally manipulate my readers (as an experiment), get comments etc but generally, I must TRY to make that happen. It doesn't come naturally. So I COULD be more popular, if I tried harder, and was less like myself. I'm not really the "popular" sort of person. It WOULD be WILDLY EXCITING to have 1000 readers a day and 500 plus comments on a post. But then you'd have to manage all that and "keep up". I'm not that interesting. I'd have to start making stuff up and the blog would turn into a work of fiction. Not this blog.

The dog has taken G for a walk. I am taking a nice hot shower. After I finish my nice cup of coffee. Then I will start deciding.